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  • 14 November 2018
  • 8 min read

How to survive your placement

  • Eniola Akinsanya
    Student Nurse - Mental Health

Eniola shares her experiences from being on placement during her studies. She's just finished her last placement and has a wealth of experience to share and give advice from!

Play video: Eniola shares her experience from being on placements as a student nurse.

Hi guys, welcome back to my channel!

For today's video I will be speaking about what to do to survive placement. I'm currently in my third year of Nursing and it's been lovely so far.

So far I've had about four placements. I've had the community, I’ve had a medical, I’ve had Surgical; you name it, I've had everything!

When I was in my first year I was literally so scared to start placement.

I didn’t know what to expect, especially if you don't have like a background in care or anything like that it can be a little bit daunting.

Today I'm just going to speak to you about the things to expect and what to do to survive placement.

Be prepared

Now the first thing I'm going to say is to be prepared as you go to somewhere new. This should be a skill that you take throughout your life. Always be prepared for anything and everywhere that you go.

Once you’ve been allocated your placement it’s so important for you to make sure that you get all the information that you need on the ward that you've been placed in or whether it's community, wherever you've been placed.

Let’s not forget you're in a professional degree, so act professional.

Your preparation process is so important. If you’ve been allocated a place that you've never been before I would suggest that you find out where it is, find out what time you're meant to start your shift or what time you'll finish.

If you actually feel like you don't know where it is or if you're so unsure go and visit the ward before the day so you know exactly where to go.

I remember one of my placements I had a day off my ward.

I was made to go to a research ward and I really thought okay it's on the site it's all the same site as my placement so I don't really need to do anything I’ll just ask I'll just do whatever - guys I was 30 minutes late and I had to obviously call in to tell them that I was gonna be late because I couldn't find the place but then I also had to ask for directions, so in that light it's not really looking good on you!

If you don't know where you’re going, ask and be prepared again remember this video. Be prepared!

Professional dress code

Another thing I'll say is as part of your preparation you need to make sure that you actually look like a professional.

I'm talking about dress code. Make sure you familiarise yourself with your University's policies and the dress code of the trust that you're going to work for.

You need your badge because that's your identity, you need to make sure that your uniform is ironed well - please don't go to placement looking crusty! You need your epaulets, make sure that your nails are cut and they’re not painted.

Don't forget you're being watched; you're being watched by everyone that you work with.

Learn about the medications being used on your ward

This is the popular one: ‘medication doesn't matter’.

You go on placement and different nurses will say you don’t need to learn medication, but seize seize whatever opportunities are there for you to learn the medication that is being used on your ward.

I'm not telling you to be so rigid and dogmatic I'm just saying if you have to opportunity to, just look into it and just see what it is all about.

Learn all the abilities that your patients come with so that you can maybe learn to match drugs together.

I'm in my third year and literally I just finished my last placement.

My mentor was like ‘what's this shot for?’ and I was looking at her so confused because my other placements in the past have told me ‘you'll be fine when you qualify, that's when you need to worry and bother about learning about medications’.

That's not true girl! You better get that BNF!

BNF is your best friend.

Placement can be stressful as well but just make sure that you're using all the resources to learn as much as you can because when you go back into uni you’ve offloaded and then when you come back to placement you have to start learning again.

So start getting that habit of learning all your medications.

The end goal is for you to be a professional nurse, they're not gonna look at you and think oh she was a student nurse, even if you have your preceptorship they still want you to be in some way educated.

They want you to be informed.

Ask for help when you’re not sure

This is already in the NMC anyway but: competency.

If you do not know anything, ask for help. You are not in placement to impress anyone, but if you’ve been asked to do something by your mentor or anyone in the workplace and you feel scared or you feel uninformed or you just have no clue what you're meant to do, don't do it.

Just tell them ‘I'm so sorry I don't know how to do it’. You've been trained, we have all our mandatory trainings for every year.

You've got the BLS, you've got the manual handling, you've been trained not to do things that you're not competent with.

Please do yourself a favour and ask, especially when it comes to drugs and medication.

Also, speaking about competency, when it comes to drugs and medication I'm hoping that whoever is watching this, this is not happening in your placement.

You're not allowed to prescribe drugs or even administer drugs to patients without being supervised by our mentors because we as nurses are being trained to cover our backs, not only are we asked to write down everything we've done because that's our evidence but also before you do things make sure that you have someone watching you.

You have someone who's approving of you to do the things you’re meant to do.

Let me give you an instance.

I was in a cardiac ward for my last placement and the patient came from A&E.

This wasn't my patient, I was actually in triage. So a triage would just get the patients in and then they go into the wards where the nurses actually sorts them out.

A doctor comes to me and she's like take the patient's drugs, give it to the nurse and tell the nurse to administer this medication.

Now I don't know much about the patient, I'm just doing the paperwork so I've gone to the nurse 'give it to her left'.

She comes up to me like five minutes later she's like ‘oh Eniola can you take this back and tell her that I cannot administer this medication’ I said ‘why, what's wrong?’ and she was like ‘in the ambulance that patients actually be given a higher dose of the same medication that she's asking but in a stronger form’.

I thought, imagine if the nurse had given that patient that medication - do you know how messy that is?!

I know that some people feel pressured when on placement. They'll be able to show that they are schooled and that, but get into the habit of doing things the right way.

Liaise with the multidisciplinary team

The last thing I'll say for placement is for you to use your resources.

I remember that every time I'm on placement all the nurses there are like ‘Eniola, have you been to this other ward? Have you been anywhere apart from our ward where you've been placed?’ and I'm like ‘no, I haven't had anything I don't know anything’.

This is your only opportunity to learn as much as you can whilst on placement.

You use the resources whilst you're here. Talk to the doctors, talk to other nurses that come in or the multidisciplinary team in that ward.

Make sure you speak to them ask questions, that's why you’re on placement.

You're not just there to be an HCA, you're not just there to be an extra helping hand.

Go to other nearby Ward's work there for a day, speak to their HCA's and ask them questions. You've got the physios and the occupational therapists, spend the day with them!

You've got the specialist nurses; come spend a day with them. You've got different people coming into the ward make sure you literally speak to them.

Use your resources because you’ve only got one chance, you need to use it right!

I hope that this video has been quite insightful for those who are in placement. I just wanted to talk to you guys about what I've learned so far!